1. Eat Slightly Slower
With the speed at which we do most things today, eating can easily become just another thing to cross off your to-do list. The next time you eat, try slowing down—you’ll pull more enjoyment out of your food, feel more satisfied, and your digestive system will thank you.
2. Honor the Elements
Every piece of food we eat has its own rich origin story, which we usually don’t think about. Next time you sit down for a meal, take a moment to acknowledge everything that went into the food on your plate. Consider the people who made it, bought the ingredients, stocked the store shelves, delivered it, harvested it, and all the natural elements of sun, rain, soil, and wind that allowed it to grow.
3. Cook with Love
Even if you’re just making a sandwich, food tastes a lot better when we put a little love into it. Pay attention to the preparation of your food, think about who’s going to eat it, and say in your mind, “May this food help you be strong, healthy, and happy.”
4. Take a Trip
Abraham Joshua Heschel said, “Life is routine and routine is resistance to wonder.” Break from routine, try ethnic foods from different regions of the world and imagine, even if just for a moment, that the food is transporting you there for a mini vacation in your mind.
5. Try Something New
Novelty is the spice of life (and a source of healthy neuroplasticity), so be adventurous and reach outside of your comfort zone. Be bold. Push yourself to try something you never thought you’d like—you never know, you just might be pleasantly surprised!
6. Start from Scratch
Most of us eat the same foods week to week for convenience and taste. And that’s okay. See if you can approach a familiar food with a sense of curiosity: Imagine it’s the first time you’ve ever eaten this food; what new sensations or flavors do you notice?
7. Eat Local, Be Respectful
Fruits and vegetables don’t grow at the grocery store. Get to know where your food comes from by visiting a local farm (or at least a farmers market)—not only will you feel more connected to what you eat, but as a rule food tastes better when it’s fresher. For those of us who eat meat, it can be tricky to figure out where the meat came from and how the animal was treated. Whenever possible, buy from companies you know treat animals respectfully.
8. Use Your Nose (and any other senses that apply)
Our sense of smell has a lot to do with how food tastes. Before eating, pause for a moment to take in the aroma of the food. What scents can you pick up? Does a memory emerge? Take a second look, what colors do you see? Then take a bite and see how much richer the experience can be.
9. Just Eat
When we eat we are often “doing” something else at the same time (working, looking at a device, talking with someone, reading, etc.), which takes away from tasting and fully enjoying the food. See if you can, for at least one meal or snack this week, just eat.
10. Have a Communal Meal
Since the dawn of time people have made it a point to “break bread” together. Invite people over for a special dinner, have a potluck, or go out to a restaurant. Feel the connection grow.
11. Surf Your Urges
We have all been prone to want something that isn’t good for us—for many of us it happens more often than we’d like to admit. Try an experiment: Next time you are craving something you know isn’t healthy for you, set a timer for 20 minutes and then check back in to see if you still want it. That space can often invoke perspective that will help you make a more mindful decision.